Your Cat is Copying Your Habits, Including Overeating, Study Says

It's a common belief that over time, pet owners start to look like their animals, and vice versa. Now comes the terrifying news that cats look up to their owners as role models and mimic their behavior.

Next time you reach for that Krispy Kreme, think twice. If Ruffles is watching, she may be prone to overeating as well.

What is your cat's IQ?

In a new study from the University of Messina, it turns out that cats who live intimately with their owners (indoor cats that live in a small space) "mirror" the lives of their caregivers. They sleep at the same time, eat at the same time, and can even become more or less social depending on the behavior of their owners.

"Cats are intelligent animals with a long memory," Jane Brunt, veterinarian and the executive director of the CATalyst Council, told Discovery News. "They watch and learn from us, (noting) the patterns of our actions, as evidenced by knowing where their food is kept and what time to expect to be fed, how to open the cupboard door that's been improperly closed, and where their feeding and toileting areas are."

Because cats mimic our habits, if you spend a lot of time raiding the fridge, your cat will return to its food bowl for that midnight snack, too. According to the study, this explains why "human and cat obesity rates often seem to match." So, if you felt guilty about leaving your precious kitty at home while you go to work, now you can feel even worse: You are making your cat fat!

There's no word if drinking green tea and making sure you go to Yoga will benefit your cat, but based on the study, it sounds like sticking to a healthy eating and sleeping schedule is best for both of you.

There's a lot we can learn from our feline friends in return. "When they sit on our lap softly purring with rhythmic breathing and half-closed eyes, the sense of serenity and calm that comes over us is like a private lesson in inner peace and meditation," Brant said. Sure. But cats don't have to sit in rush hour traffic for an hour a day or worry about their in-laws. They're probably pretty good at remaining calm.

So, according to science, even though we assumed that cats were aloof jerks all these years, it turns out they are in fact learning from us and looking up to us. Scary, huh?